Berlin Bound: Inaugural Semester of Sustainability in Berlin Program
As thousands of students are entering fall classes at the University of Colorado Denver, nine CU Denver students are stepping into classrooms at Germany’s distinguished Ecologic Institute for the university’s new partnership program, Sustainability in Berlin. The program provides an opportunity for students to study and research global challenges and solutions relevant to developing sustainable environments while they earn CU Denver credit hours and participate in internships.
“Being tested in a new culture and setting will be eye-opening as I learn how other people deal with issues of sustainability,” said Lisa Tran, who is majoring in international studies with a minor in sustainability. Tran is excited to be immersing herself into a new culture and, although the is nervous, adds, “I know it will be worth it in the end!”
The University of Colorado Denver collaborates with institutions of higher education in diverse global regions, including Europe, Asia and the Middle East, to customize new educational programs for emerging fields of study. The interdisciplinary approach of the Ecologic Institute, which is a leading “think-tank” on environmental issues, enables students in different fields —architecture or economics, for example— to work with others in political science or public affairs. This creates a richer understanding of the many sides of environmental issues such as water, “cap and trade”, or transportation. Students will take two political science classes, one taught by CU Denver faculty Dr. Christoph Stefes, and the other by Ecologic Institute Senior Fellow Stephanie Wunder. Students will also have internship opportunities with organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund.
For Chantelle Wilkerson, a senior at CU Denver, the program perfectly combines her major and minor – international studies and sustainability. “And when I found out that there was also an internship involved, I could not pass up the opportunity,” she said. Wilkerson hopes to be a policy advisor or foreign affairs officer someday, and the program will offer her professional and academic experience. Though she has never been to Europe, she feels that living abroad will help her understand the world outside of an American perspective and encourage further travels.
History and psychology double-major Kayla Gabehart anticipates that the semester program will be a profound experience. “I grew up in a rural farm town, and I have never been out of the United States,” she explained, “Where I’m from, this is not an opportunity that many people get.” Gabehart wanted to study abroad because she thinks, “part of being well-educated and well-rounded requires living and learning in other places. The program will also help in her academic pursuits. Gabehart plans to seek a MA in History when she returns, and she is excited to learn about the interconnected histories of the United States and Germany firsthand.
Mikhail Lantsov, a psychology and international studies double-major, expects the program will be “a great opportunity to expand my horizons and network with some fantastic individuals.” He thinks the experience will offer valuable real-world experience for his professional career, and make him more open to new cultures and different styles of living. Lantsov is looking forward to visiting different parts of Europe and Germany. “I like the adventure.”
What do these CU students think they will miss the most? Gabehart knows she will miss her tight-knit family, and Lantsov agrees that he will miss his supportive friends and family. Tran will miss Colorado’s outdoor activities such as biking and hiking; however, she knows there will be plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities in Germany. Wilkerson expects it will be difficult to be away from her friends, family, and boyfriend. And, she added, “I will also really miss Chipotle.”
Since the nine students arrived in Berlin, they have continued to settle into life abroad. “Auf wiedersehen, Denver!” proclaimed the group. A new adventure has begun.
For more information about the Office of International Affairs, University of Colorado Denver, visit: international.ucdenver.edu.
To learn more about global education programs, go to: ucdenver.edu/studyabroad.
By Emma Sletteland